Since the beginning of January, Whole Foods has been screaming it from their Facebook pages, corporate blog, news affiliates, and tastefully designed signage: “Collards are the new kale!” While at first glance this just seems like a flash-in-the-pan and downright lazy line of ad copy, its casual, trend-focused language raised red flags among some people.
There's a difficult scene in toward the beginning of Candace Walsh's memoir, Licking The Spoon, where five-year-old Walsh is essentially force-fed her dinner amidst tears, gagging, and vomit. This particularly heartbreaking image propelled me back to my own memories of sitting at my childhood dinner table, locked in a fierce battle between myself, my father, and food. Walsh's tantalizing descriptions of both the recipes and people in her life help pull the reader into a story that's a perfect mix of memoir and indulgent foodie read. I spoke with Walsh about the challenges of writing a memoir, the notion of choosing our own families, and the erotic potential of food.
What compelled you to write a memoir in your forties? It's a relatively young age.
CANDACE WALSH: I was very influenced by Anais Nin, who kept a diary her entire life. I also kept a diary from childhood through my early twenties. I saw that I had lots of material. I had a consciousness of the narrative as it unfolded. It seemed to have an arc. I also didn't want to wait because I felt like the story elements were fresh in my mind now, in a way that they wouldn't be when I was, say, 65.
There's that axiom that can be seen as a curse: "May you live in interesting times." I had to overcome a lot of challenges. My parents were young and didn't have their acts together. There was a lot of addiction, rage, dysfunction, sadness and pain in my family during my childhood. But at the same time, as I grew up, the culture was shifting. People started telling the truth about their experiences, instead of keeping silent and perpetuating them. There have also been so many epic civil rights gains for gay people in the last 20 years. So I felt that I had a personal story to tell which highlights the relationship between those dynamics.
When they had judges like you [Corby Kummer] and Jeff Steingarten and Dana Cowin and Ed Levine, people whose opinion I felt merited the ability to criticize my food, that's one thing. But when all of a sudden you get these skinny little actresses from a show called The OC and they're saying they don't like raw fish, I'm like, 'Fuck you, why are you talking about my food? Who let you in this room?' 'Oh, I really don't like that.' Well who the fuck are you?
Happy Thanksgiving Leftovers Day! If you, like me, spent the morning deciding between pie and mashed potatoes for breakfast, you might need some songs about food to provide a soundtrack to your day. Here are two past BitchTapes, republished with your gustatory needs in mind. Betcha can't eat listen to just one!
Who's Hungry? Part I
Track list and Who's Hungry? Part II after the jump!
In the U.S., food marketing and consumption is highly gendered. In the funny pages, Cathy gobbles down chocolate and Dagwood constructs towering, meaty sandwiches. On the Internet, the Women Laughing Alone With Salad is an exemplary (and hilarious) meme. Guy vegans seemed like such a quaint anomaly that a Boston Globe reporter tried to make "hegan" happen in 2010. I say "in the U.S." because the nation apparently has an extreme case of food gendering, thanks to our robust and omnipresent advertising industry and a steady, though not necessarily high-quality or healthy, food supply. In a Salon article exploring gendered representations and connotations of food, Riddhi Shah writes "In the U.S., instead, it was an extension of one's identity, a phenomenon made possible by the United States' unique history of unrivaled luxury." Put another way: you are what you eat.